Sylvain Knecht (1914-2001)
"L’envers du décor", circa 1940
Young man in his bedroom putting a record on the player, 1958
photo: Dennis Stock
The Love Song of I, Robert Mitchum
Let us go then, you and I,
When the Klieg lamps are spread out against the sky
and I’m as drunk as a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
the muttering retreats
of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
and sundry other clichés of film noir set design.
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and avoid the producer’s visit.
In the room the crew comes and goes
talking of low angles, though.
The hazy cigarette smoke that rubs its back upon the window blinds,
the sickly sweet smoke that rubs its muzzle on the windowpanes
licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
lingered upon the pools that stand in drains.
Now has everyone curled once about the house, asleep and/or stoned.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear heavy trench coats, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the femmes fatales singing, each to each.
I do not think that Jean Simmons or Jane Greer will sing to me.
I have seen Jane Russell riding seaward on the waves
combing the white hair of the waves blown back
when the wind blows the water white and black
because RKO can’t afford Technicolor.
We have lingered in the bottle and the trailer
by these hot girls and older dames, drunk again,
till a director’s voice wakes us, and we drown.
(apologies to T.S. Eliot and his fans, but I had to do this)
High school seniors at Port Jefferson High School discussing an upcoming date, 1956
Long Island, New York
photo: Eve Arnold
Armour Franks, 1956